To be honest, I think I was losing interest in fly fishing. It's almost halfway through April and the only fishing I had done all year before yesterday was a session at De Mond. To call that fishing is even a lie, all I really did was sit on the sand and talk about girls with my good friend Alex. It didn't help much that the night before we had an absolute blow out with some rock and surf fishermen that we had met at the campsite where we were staying. But hell, we had a cool time exchanging fishing stories with a cold jaboolie in hand until the early hours of the morning. Yeah so that's about right, I haven't fished all year. I mean c'mon, I live 40 km from the CPS streams where one can sight fish to happily rising trout - what is wrong with me?
So, when asked to guide for three days over the course of one working week I apathetically accepted. When the time came closer to take these chaps out on the stream I decided to give preparation a little thought. Renew the CPS license. Book the beats I thought would work, but had no idea if they would. Stocked up on tippets and leaders; forgot how fine 7x was. Opened they fly box to find a measly collection of dries and nymphs. Spent the three days before the first of guiding spewing out flies that I thought would work, but had no idea if they would.
The first day of guiding arrived. I got out of bed at 4am to leave Stellenbosch at 5am to get to Camps Bay by 6am to be on the river by 7:30am! Man, I wasn't too stoked when my alarm went off. However, after my first session out with Grant from Colorado on the river, I had forgotten about the 4am rise and quite enjoyed those that were happening on the river. The following mornings that I had to awake early were easier because I looked forward to the session on the stream ahead. To keep it short re the guiding, all three days were kick-ass with many fish, fishing stories and great banter.
After it all, I received a very touching email from the second chap I took out where he thanked me very much for reigniting his passion for fly fishing and that it was his most memorable day out ever. In all honesty, I should be the one thanking him, as well as the other two, for rekindling my love for fly fishing. Not once in all three days did I wish I were fishing, I had such fun watching them have such a gas and seeing the fish behave the way they did.
Grant sending loops up a sexy run on day one. In this exact run on day 3 I saw the biggest trout I've ever in this river. It came up for the fly as the chap pulled it out the water to reload. Bummer.
Three days of guiding done and heck I now had to get out there. Beat of day 1 and 3 booked for myself for the 8th of April; it's one of my favourite out there. Back to the vice to spin up more fish food. Dust off the Sage 2250 to match the Redington Hydrogen 10 foot 3 weight. All good to go, except for the fact I had no buddy to go with. All 12 people I had asked to join me had better things to do, oh well more fishing for me is what I thought. I was pretty bleak that no one wanted to come; I really wanted to share the experience with someone as I did with the chaps I took out previously. But then again I thought 'more fishing for me.'
The 8th of April arrived with one helluva annoying sound coming from my bedside table. Snooze. Snooze. Shut up; snooze again. I was half awake by this time and began to think that it wasn't worth going for stupid reasons that I am too embarrassed to type here; I did then deleted it and wrote this instead. Jeeze like what's wrong with me? Eventually I got up, packed the bags with ammunition needed for the day, made some coffee and hit the road. I arrived at the parking spot a little later no thanks to my alarm habits. Boots on, backpack on, fly rod assembled - let's go! Now I'm excited! It's a quite a walk to the beginning of the beat, but I don't mind, I dig walking.
Finally I get to the stream and watch the water from a distance; nothing. Drifts through the first pocket, nothing. Second pocket, first drift; wham! My size 20 CDC RAB gets inhaled by a little 'bow. Oh man I was super stoked, the pesca gods had blessed me early in the day. I changed the drowned CDC RAB to an elk hair caddis in the same size. Same pocket, next drift; bazinga, another fish! Man I love this sh**! I had now forgotten that I was alone and having the time of my life. From here on I could take the day as it came and all pressure to catch something was lifted, not that it should be there in the first place. I took on the day slowly and appreciated everything around me; the sounds of the riffle, the birds flying about, the sun slowly sliding down the slopes and the nervous fish that would spook from underneath my steps.
The rivers are low, but cool and the fish are packed.
An hour had passed with one more landed and a few more to rise to the fly, but the fish took advantage of my rustiness. No hatch present and the rises began to slow down towards the small midge patterns I was presenting so I changed over to meaty looking hopper, size 14. This got them hungry again. I noticed that if I missed one after it rose to the first fly, I only had one more shot at it with a different pattern, but similar size. If I didn't set the hook after it came up for the second presentation, that would be me done - I reckon they've learnt a trick or two over the season. This goes except for one in the picture below. This guy was stubborn and threw his fin at the 8 different dries I threw at him. I was pretty adamant to fishing dries all day, but this dude was irritating me. I tied on a size 20 sunken ant dropped under the hopper and booya, he was in the bag! Man I love this sh**! Soon after that I caught the biggest of the day, about 13 inches (also picture below). This dude turned and traced the size 16 CDC and elk pattern I gave it. Hook set and man he revved for the undercut of the bush. Best fight all day, they all gave a solid effort in fact.
After lunch I finally had some sort of mammalian company. Three infant baboons came out to watch me from a rock no more than 7 meters away, then mother, then father. I was a little weary of their presence, but soon realised that they were more of mine. I stopped fishing and we watched each other for about ten minutes - romantic stuff. Whar a rad experience to be fishing for trout and have baboons doing their thing so near by. It's something that one can only really understand if something similar happens to them, and it's one of the beauties that fishing has to offer.
A couple hundred meters more to the end of the beat and a couple more fish were landed after they were fooled. At the end of the beat I switched flies from dry to streamer and fished all the deeper and longer pools on my way back down the river. The smallies were hungry and feisty. How cool is that, on the way up I was catching trout on big dries and on the way down bass were falling for streamers being stripped through their territory. Man I love this sh**! What a rad day out. I didn't care that I was alone anymore. I didn't care about the numbers of fish that I caught anymore. I didn't care about the fish that gave me bat anymore. I just cared about the enjoyment I was experiencing right there during that moment, that was the entire day for me. That's fishing and I had forgotten.
To think that that morning I almost decided not to go? Stuff that, I'm back!